Skip to content

Stenhouse scores Sprint Cup Rookie of the Year honors

Nov 18, 2013, 5:55 PM EDT

Ford EcoBoost 400 - Qualifying Getty Images

Performance-wise, Ricky Stenhouse Jr.‘s inaugural Sprint Cup season was a far cry from the back-to-back championship years in the Nationwide Series that preceded it. But it was still enough to earn him the 2013 Rookie of the Year title in NASCAR’s top division.

“All in all, it was a huge learning experience,” Stenhouse said in summing up his season. “[I'm] thankful we made it through, it’s behind us now. We can move on to next year, look on improving every spot at every track that we can in the final points standings.”

The Mississippi native didn’t log his first Top-10 result of the year until finishing 10th in the regular season finale at Richmond in September. However, he managed to get through without suffering a DNF, netting an average finish of 18.9 en route to a 19th-place showing in the standings.

By contrast, Stenhouse’s Rookie of the Year rival and girlfriend, Danica Patrick, had what one would charitably call a “character-building” debut year in Cup.

After finishing eighth in the season-opening Daytona 500, the former IndyCar star was unable to turn in another Top-10 finish for the remainder of the schedule. Poor qualifying (average start: 30.1) didn’t help matters and on race day, it wasn’t much better for Patrick, who had an average finish of 26.1. Additionally, she had five DNFs.

For his part, Stenhouse said that he and Patrick didn’t particularly focus on their rookie battle outside of a light bit of joking over the situation. He also maintained that both of them learned a lot as Cup freshmen.

“We both wanted to just finish as best we could each and every week,” he said. “Then ultimately, in the final points standings of the whole field, I was shooting for a Top-15 [finish] – didn’t quite get that.

“But all in all, I think we both had decent years…We both have a lot to work on throughout the off-season and through next year.”

In that regard, Stenhouse said he needed to improve on learning the right adjustments to make during practice in preparation for the races.

“We still struggled with that a little bit,” he said. “But then again, I know that’s what we need to work on. We got our qualifying efforts better. We start the race a lot better; we just have to finish it off.

“Next year, that’s the biggest thing, just finishing the races kind of where we start them.”

Stenhouse’s best result this year was a third-place effort at Talladega last month.

Latest Posts
  1. WATCH LIVE: FP3 for the Belgian Grand Prix

    Aug 23, 2014, 4:45 AM EDT

    Fernando Alonso AP

    One final chance for the drivers and teams to get to grips with Spa ahead of qualifying later today.

  2. MRTI: Title battles to reach crescendo after intriguing Friday at Sonoma

    Aug 23, 2014, 1:09 AM EDT

    Photo: Pro Mazda AP

    Dramatic day for Pro Mazda, USF2000 Friday in Sonoma.

  3. Ryan Blaney passes Kyle Busch on final restart, hangs on to win Nationwide race at Bristol

    Aug 22, 2014, 11:35 PM EDT

    (Photo: Patrick Smith/Getty Images) Getty Images

    Ryan Blaney passed Kyle Busch with six laps left in Friday night’s Food City 300 Nationwide Series race at Bristol Motor Speedway, and then held on the rest of the way to earn his second career NNS victory.

  4. Delay’s over, engines fired for Nationwide Series at Bristol (UPDATED)

    Aug 22, 2014, 8:30 PM EDT

    bristol rain Getty Images

    Update (8:30 p.m. ET): The engines have been fired and tonight’s Food City 300 is ready to roll.

  5. Kevin Harvick edges Jeff Gordon for Bristol Sprint Cup pole

    Aug 22, 2014, 6:54 PM EDT

    harvick bristol 2 2014 Getty Images

    Jeff Gordon looked like he had the pole for Saturday’s Irwin Tools Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway. But Kevin Harvick had other ideas.

  6. Will A.J. Allmendinger seek payback for Brad Daugherty’s practical joke?

    Aug 22, 2014, 6:34 PM EDT

    dinger daugherty watkins glen 2014 Getty Images

    At 7-feet tall, ESPN NASCAR analyst, team co-owner and former NBA star Brad Daugherty is a formidable presence. He’s also known to play a practical joke every now and then.

  7. NASCAR: Bristol spring weekend shifting to April

    Aug 22, 2014, 5:39 PM EDT

    Food City 500 Getty Images

    Unpredictable weather conditions have impacted the Food City 500 in its March spot, which the event has had since the 2005 season.

  8. 2015 NASCAR Schedule to be Revealed Tuesday, 5 p.m. ET, on special NASCAR AMERICA

    Aug 22, 2014, 5:21 PM EDT

    NASCAR America

    The 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series schedule will be officially presented on Tuesday, August 26 at 5 p.m. ET on a special 60-minute edition of NASCAR AMERICA.

  9. Kyle Busch earns Nationwide pole for tonight at Bristol

    Aug 22, 2014, 5:05 PM EDT

    Bristol Motor Speedway - Day 1 Getty Images

    “Rowdy” earns the pole for tonight’s Food City 300 with a lap of 125.142 miles per hour in the No. 54 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota.

  10. Longtime Busch Series owner Ed Whitaker passes away

    Aug 22, 2014, 3:52 PM EDT

    ed whitaker 2014

    Former NASCAR Nationwide Series team owner Ed Whitaker passed away Friday at his home in Bristol, Va., business associate Peter Laura told the Bristol Herald Courier.

  11. Rossi disappointed, but diplomatic, after Marussia no-go

    Aug 22, 2014, 3:04 PM EDT

    RossiBELP1 AP

    In statement, Alexander Rossi takes the high road after missing out on Grand Prix debut with Marussia in Spa.

  12. NASCAR: Stenhouse tops final Bristol Cup practice ahead of qualifying later today

    Aug 22, 2014, 2:41 PM EDT

    Irwin Tools Night Race - Practice Getty Images

    Late in the 50-minute session, the Roush Fenway Racing driver zipped around the half-mile oval at 131.048 mph in the No. 17 Ford Fusion.

  13. Belgian GP Paddock Notebook – Friday

    Aug 22, 2014, 2:00 PM EDT

    F1 Grand Prix of Belgium - Practice Getty Images

    Here’s today’s round-up from the paddock at Spa-Francorchamps.

  14. Mercedes-powered teams excel during Belgian GP practice

    Aug 22, 2014, 1:30 PM EDT

    Nico Hulkenberg AP

    In the year of the power unit, Spa is rewarding the Mercedes-powered teams.

  15. Russian GP3 driver survives an insane, backwards barrel roll at Spa (VIDEO)

    Aug 22, 2014, 1:27 PM EDT

    Photo via @123pnz on Twitter Photo via @123pnz on Twitter

    Russian GP3 debutante Konstantin Tereschenko goes for a wild ride at Spa, but mercifully emerges unscathed.

  16. NASCAR: Kyle Larson fastest in 1st Sprint Cup practice at Bristol

    Aug 22, 2014, 1:16 PM EDT

    Irwin Tools Night Race - Practice Getty Images

    The Chip Ganassi Racing driver turns a lap of 131.083 mph around the high-banked half-mile to lead Friday’s first practice session.

  17. At just 16 years old, is Max Verstappen simply too young for F1?

    Aug 22, 2014, 1:00 PM EDT

    F1 Grand Prix of Belgium - Previews Getty Images

    As good as he may be, is Max Verstappen too young to be racing up against drivers twice his age?

  18. Verstappen set for practice sessions in Austin, Brazil, Abu Dhabi

    Aug 22, 2014, 12:30 PM EDT

    F1 Grand Prix of Belgium - Previews Getty Images

    Son of ex-racer Jos set to become the youngest ever F1 driver next season at the age of 17.

  19. Kenseth still in good Chase spot, but not out of woods yet

    Aug 22, 2014, 12:15 PM EDT

    Pure Michigan 400 - Qualifying Getty Images

    At 13th on the Chase Grid with three regular season races left, the former Sprint Cup champion isn’t feeling the need to choose between going for a win or having a good points day.

Video from NASCAR America

Why Bristol is such a unique track
Top 10 NASCAR Driver Searches
  1. J. Gordon (1523)
  2. I. Vences (1258)
  3. K. Harvick (1204)
  4. B. McReynolds (1097)
  5. K. Kahne (1026)